On Near Beer

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NearBeerFound amidst the ruins of one man’s tastebuds:

“Journal entry, May 8th: 

It has been three days since I’ve consumed alcohol. Bourbon calls out to me in dreams, tempting me in a voice that sounds like Ashley Judd’s soft Kentucky drawl. From within the darkened recesses of my kitchen cabinets Single Malts distilled on Islay scream like Mel Gibson in BRAVEHEART: “Freedom!” they call, and it is all I can do to not heed their plea. I wish they would just die and make the Queen cry or something.

Anyway, during this difficult time I have subsisted on a peculiar set of liquids known as “non-alcoholic beers,” which turns the meaning of “beer” on its head. Calling them beer is like referring to a hip check as great sex. You’ve got some of the same motion, but none of the fun. It’s madness!

Anyway, I record here my observations about these so-called near beers, so that other drinkers who hate themselves can partake with full knowledge of what is in store:

Clausthaler is the “best,” though I think its name is German for, “Doesn’t quite taste like a urine-soaked sock.” My German is rusty, though, so I could be wrong.

Kaliber is a weird concoction, sort of honey tasting, if honey tasted like non-chewable asprin mixed with Pepto-Bismol. Apart from the abhorrent flavor, all I can think of when I drink it is, “What the fuck is up with that K in Kaliber? It’s a C, you Irish git. It’s not Kounty Kork, is it?” But then again, maybe the Irish want us to think it’s German. If so, props to the People of the Leprechaun. You are wise.

Finally, there is O’Douls. O’Douls is an American brew, but wants us to think it’s Irish. One can hardly blame them. O’Douls is so inoffensive and tasteless that it’s barely there. It’s like the astral projection of near beer. It’s as though Clausthaler and Kaliber died and O’Douls is their ghost, which means I AM DRINKING THE DEAD!

End entry. More when I can.”

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5 thoughts on “On Near Beer

  1. Paul, having done an extensive Near Beer study myself last year during an experimental abstinence period, I draw the following conclusions when looking back:

    1) Near Beer is very hard to enjoy on its’ own as one would enjoy a normal beer. There are however some examples, that make a pretty reasonable food pairing and subjectively provide a closer feel to real beer when consumed with food.
    In general, the more fuller bodied Near Beers made the better food matchings vs. the thin ghostly piss.

    2) Of approximately 15 different Near Beers tried, the “best” ones were often from Germany. My theory is, that Near Beer quality has a lot to do with experience, same as with making good wine and whisky. As German brewers started quite early working on Near Beers for driver’s safety reasons, the results are usually better than those from brewers, who started digging this at a later point of time. Experience matters. But in the end all of this depends on personal tastes of course.
    I was able to check into this a bit, when analyzing dealcoholized wines. There are gigantic differences in flavor retention depending on the alcohol extraction technology (such as spinning cone for example), extraction temperature and then of course composition characteristics of the original beverage itself.
    This said, both Near Wine and Near Beer are both not really making life enjoyable (yet).
    However I am sure there will be further significant improvements (if you think the Near Beers you tasted are bad, you should have tried the ones available 10 years ago…) the more producers embrace new products from the flavor industry. I have tried destilled water with artificial beer flavors from those industries, that made the best Near Beers I ever tried. And if you think that major producers of flavored vodka, rum or bourbon never use industrial flavor concentrates to enhance oak, honey, spices or whatsoever flavors … well, think about it again and read backlabels carefully, depending on how much legislation requires to put there.

    3) While I was quite happy with the Near Beer trials for one or two weeks, I have to admit that after stopping abstinence, I have only had Near Beer on two occasions again. It’s not really something one learns to get fond of over time.
    At the same time, I see real beer with different eyes since that episode and have learned to appreciate it much more.

  2. St Paul N.A. is what I drink. Why? Because I like the taste of beer, and alcohol leads to poor decision making. When I used to drink I never made good judgment calls while drunk.

  3. for a couple of days now there is a radio ad in germany about a new “clausthaler”. allegedly the first ever unfiltered non-alcoholic beer.
    Haven’t tried it, don’t know when, if at all, it will be available oversees. But since you seem to like clausthaler marginally better than the other swill, I thought I let you know about it. cheers

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